Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Writing Buddy Wednesday: Juanita Kees

Today, I have RWAus blog extraordinaire, Juanita Kees, to the Taverna. I've known Juanita for a while now online. We volunteer for RWAus on the same team, and I completed a couple of banners for her last year (which I had huge fun doing). 

Juanita is a funny lady with a generous spirit, and she never complains when my information for the Cruisin' blog is late.

Thanks Juanita for joining me in the Taverna.

Thank you for having me here today. Great place you have here! Is that Ouzo over there? Oooh!

You recently had your first novel published, Fly Away Peta. Congratulations. Can you tell us a little about it?

Here is the blurb, Eleni, but first I have to tell you that this is a story of hope, trust, courage and forgiveness. Mostly it’s about learning to trust again. Peta faces many trials in this story and Jaime has way too many questions to answer before he can be the perfect hero. But hey, he’s Italian and, like Greek boys, what’s not to love?

Peta Johnson will go to extreme lengths to protect her daughter Bella. When the Bella is kidnapped, the search for her takes Peta back to the small Western Australian country town of Williams, a place she’d vowed never to return to. The town where her dreams were shattered and her nightmare began. Back to the place she’d been destined to meet two very powerful, yet very different men. One would break her heart; the other would destroy her soul. Both would change her life forever.
The search for Bella brings them together, secrets and lies keep them apart. Can Peta and Jaime renew their love in the face of danger or will he let her fly away again?

Can you tell us your road to publication.

Mine is one of those ‘wowser!’ stories. Readers are welcome to come over and read the full call story but the shortened version is that I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. 

I started out in notebooks and progressed to a typewriter and then…they invented computers! Although I’d submitted a few times over the years, I’d never so much as had a short story published. I gave it up for a while and packed my dreams away in the desk drawer to raise my boys. 

That took me a while J and by the time I rediscovered RWAustralia and found out what a thumb drive was, I found my style had changed. One day on a hunch, I submitted Fly Away Peta to Eternal Press and WHAM! I had an answer the next day and a published book six months later. The moral of the story: Never give up on your dreams.

Are you a plotter? Pantser? Or somewhere in between?

I’m a terrible pantser! I get half way through the story and realize, oops! They might need a plan here. My characters usually appear long before a story does so planning their lives makes things a little difficult. When I do get to the point where they need a little help, I pull out my dog-eared, sticky-noted 1993 version of Valerie Parv’s The Art of Romance Writing and show them where to go. I don’t know what I’d do without Valerie!

What or who inspired you to write?

My dad. He had so many stories to tell us when we were growing up. We loved reading, movies, and story-telling over camp fires. Long before we could afford a television, we used to listen to the radio after dinner, waiting patiently for ‘The Tales of Tracy Dark’, or ‘Ten o’Clock Tales’ and our favourite police drama ‘Squad Cars’. My late aunt Marita also played a huge part in me heading down the road to romance. Her endless love affair with Mills & Boon provided us with many hours of reading pleasure. If ever I’m lucky enough to publish with HMB, I’d definitely dedicate my first to her. Sadly she passed away from cancer a few years ago and couldn’t help me celebrate my publishing success. I hope I’ve made her proud with Fly Away Peta. It was at her house one school holiday that I dreamt up the title and penned the first paragraphs when I should have been practicing maths.

What are you working on now? And what’s in the near future for Juanita Kees?

I’ve finished book two, Taming the Tiger and have begun the submission process. I think it took longer to write the synopsis than it did to write the book! I loved writing it and was sad to see it go, but I hope it finds a good home soon. Scott and TJ are my favourite characters so far. Here I have to thank the wonderful Diane Curran, Susan Child and Sammy McHenry as well as all the others who popped in during 50K in 30 Days for their support. I might never have finished it without you!

As for the future, it’s time to make a start on book three Darkness & Light (working title) because the character from book four When the Wind Blows Cold are yelling very loudly for me to hurry up J

What would be your ultimate research trip? ;))

Ooooh, I could be very naughty here but I’ll be mildly naughty instead. Point me in the direction of Greece…but I’ll have to take you and Efthalia Pegios along to show me the…uh…ropes ;-)

You are also an editor and run Kees2Create. How do you balance your creative and technical sides of writing? Also tell us a bit about Kees2Create.

Balance? It’s more like a juggling act! I heard tell once that editors are frustrated writers. I can honestly say that is a myth – for me anyway. 

I’ve found that editing has brought a great deal of fulfillment for me. I get wonderful satisfaction from helping writers sharpen their writing, knowing that I’ve helped them polish a manuscript to perfection and that when they hold that book in their hands, they are proud to have their work out there.
Editing has taught me a lot about polishing my own work and having it as close to perfect as possible long before it finds its way into the hands of an editor.

Kees2Create started out as a writing and proofreading business in 2011 when I graduated from college with a diploma in Editing, Publishing and Proofreading. I write blogs, reviews, web content and training manuals. I recently started editing fiction for US publisher Damnation Books and scientific text books for Elsevier Press (UK). I have another very exciting editing project starting soon, but I can’t tell you about it just yet…all I can say is – I’m excited!

It’s been such a pleasure having you on the blog, Juanita.

Thank you for having me here today. It’s always fun hanging out with you. Am I allowed that Ouzo now? Efharisto, Dimitri. Yammas!!

LOL, Juanita, yes, you can have the Ouzo. Stin iyia mas :)

You can find Juanita at the following locations:


Peta said...

Hi Eleni, & Juanita,
Lovely to learn a little more about your road to publication and your editing business Juanita. You are one busy lady!

Efthalia said...

Hello Juanita and Eleni,

I don't know if Eleni told you Juanita but she will be accompanying us to Greece. Naturally we will gladly show you all the sites!

I love your story Juanita and it's so true that one should never give up on ones dreams.

Enjoying your success with you. OPA! More retsina Dimitri!


Mel Teshco said...

Great story Juanita,

you didn't do it back to front like me and try and raise kids and write too LOL!

Your books sound great - one question, can an aussie gal come along to Greece too? I do like me some ouzo LOL!

Juanita said...

Hi Peta,

My hubby tells me that if I keep busy, I'll stay out of trouble. ;-)

Juanita said...

Hi Effie!

Oooh, it's going to be sooo much fun. I'm going to start practicing zorba and my basic Greek :)

Juanita said...

Hi Mel :)

I admire your courage, strength and commitment. I struggle to juggle writing time even now they're all grown up, so I can't imagine trying to do it after sleepless nights with toddlers. Look at how amazing Loretta Hill is too. I take my hat off to you, ladies xxx

Eleni Konstantine said...

Thanks for dropping by Peta, Efthalia, and Mel and making Juanita feel at home.

Peta - love learning about the publication road journey.

Effie - LOL. Did I say yes? :) But oh, boy, a trip with you girls. Watch out Greece!

Mel - Well Mel, you are a wonder woman writing and raising kids. And yep, the more the merrier to Greece. :)

Juanita - LOL re what hubby says re keeping busy.

Kez said...

Great interview Juanita and I loved your call story! Can I come along on that research trip too please? I'll be the one to make sure you all get home after too much ouzo :)

Efthalia Pegios said...

Eleni - You didn't have to say yes. It's a Greek thing. You're coming.

Mel - Of course you can join us.

Kez - Research is paramount in any novel, so you are coming along.

Peta - Hope you can join us too.

Juanita - my partner in crime. lol.


Cathleen Ross said...

Congratulations on your publication. You'd be an ideal editor for Escape Publishing. They're getting busy.

Eleni Konstantine said...

LOL Kez, yep we do need a chaperone :)

LOL, Effie. Feel right at home with you!

Cathleen - thanks for dropping by.

Juanita said...

Kez, absolutely! I couldn't possibly go without you, Someone has to keep us out of trouble :D

Hi Cathleen :) I'm blushing. Thank you so much for that great compliment. Escape is going to be a wonderful opportunity for both writers and editors alike. What an exciting year it's going to be for Harlequin.

Lol, Effie. We are going to get into so much trouble :D

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